O'Sullivan to miss whole snooker season
Ronnie O'Sullivan will not defend his world title following confirmation he is to miss the whole of the snooker season.
O'Sullivan has tasted little competitive action since winning the World Championship earlier this year and recently pulled out of an event in China due to illness.
And now the biggest name in the game will not feature on the tour this season, with personal issues cited as the reason behind the announcement.
In a statement, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: "I have spoken to Ronnie and he has decided to withdraw from any events he has entered, and he will not be playing for the rest of this season.
"He has some personal issues which he needs to resolve and we wish him all the best for the future."
After winning the world crown for the fourth time in May, O'Sullivan announced he was taking an extended break from the game. In June, he decided not to sign the official players' contract, claiming he did not want to be tied down to a schedule.
He returned to action in a Players Tour Championship event in September but was beaten by little-known Simon Bedford - and he is now heading for an extended spell away from the game.
O'Sullivan recently raised the prospect of retirement, stating he was finding it tough to motivate himself in practice, and there is now doubt as to whether the 36-year-old will return to the sport.